Lenders to return to Athens next week after Greek budget offer

Reuters

* EU says Greece made new proposal on filling 2014 budgetgap

* International inspectors will go ahead with postponedvisit

BRUSSELS, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Inspectors from Greece's lendershave put a postponed visit to the country back on the agenda andwill return early next week after Athens made a new proposal onfilling a gap in the 2014 budget, the European Commission said.

The team of officials from the International Monetary Fund,the European Commission and the European Central Bank - known asthe Troika - will decide whether to pay out the next tranche ofloans under Greece's bailout programme.

The inspectors visit Athens regularly to check progress onits bailout commitments.

Their most recent inspection began in September before beingpaused and was initially expected to resume at end-October andthen slated for resumption on Nov.4.

On Thursday, euro zone officials said the trip next weekwould be postponed because the parties had been unable to bridgedifferences over how to close a 2-billion-euro ($2.7 billion)hole in Greece's 2014 budget.

But the standoff was defused late on Friday when Greece sentthe lenders information on how it could fill the fiscal gap andmeet other bailout targets, including privatisations.

"We have (on Friday) evening received further informationfrom Athens which means we can confirm our travel plans. Ourteam will thus be in Athens at the beginning of the comingweek," European Commission spokesman Simon O'Connor said.

The International Monetary Fund said that its staff wouldresume work in Athens on Tuesday.

Greece has been kept afloat by a financial lifeline from theeuro zone and the IMF since 2010, with 240 billion euros ($330billion) pledged in exchange for spending cuts and reforms.

After a six-year recession that wiped out 40 percent ofhousehold disposable incomes and sent unemployment soaring toalmost 28 percent, Greeks are saying they can take no more.

The coalition government argues it deserves some slack afterdelivering the biggest budget deficit reduction ever recorded inthe euro zone, and Greece's president has said the country wouldnot yield to pressure from foreign lenders to impose more budgetausterity.

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